You’ve probably noticed that The Thinking Gentleman has five main topic areas – Perspective, Direction, Health, Wealth, and Relationships.
And possibly you’ve wondered why I chose those five in particular.
But most likely you haven’t guessed that Immanuel Kant has a role to play in the whole affair. So let’s hand over to the man himself:
Intuition and concepts constitute… the elements of all our knowledge, so that neither concepts without an intuition in some way corresponding to them, nor intuition without concepts, can yield knowledge. (Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Pure Reason)
As you can see from this opening quotation, Kant’s philosophy makes sure to clearly distinguish between two separate capacities, that of intuition and that of concepts.
Why the distinction? Well, to put it simply, intuition describes our lived experience, the things that happen to us and the way in which they shape us. Concepts, in contrast, are lived experience’s intellectual counterpart, our effort to process and make sense of the world around us through the application of reason.
Taken separately, neither intuition nor concepts are enough to arrive at knowledge. Rather, it is, as Kant continues, in the union of concepts and intuition that true knowledge is obtained:
“It is, therefore, just as necessary to make our concepts sensible, that is, to add the object to them in intuition, as to make our intuitions intelligible, that is, to bring them under concepts… The understanding can intuit nothing, the senses can think nothing. Only through their union can knowledge arise.”
What does all this have to do with The Thinking Gentleman, you say? Well, it just so happened that, as I was setting up The Thinking Gentleman, these words kept resonating in my mind.
The problem with most self development content, as I saw it, was that it was merely communicating a specific individual’s intuition; an author who has gone through a certain problem in his own life and provides you with his solution based on his own personal experience.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with that – in fact it can be extremely valuable – but, as we have seen, intuition can only ever be half of the knowledge puzzle. There is a conceptual framework that underpins it, and those ideas need to be clearly communicated and assimilated as well. Put in self development terms, leading the life you want to lead is just as much about developing the way you think as it is reading advice about what to do.
That, more than anything, is what I believe sets The Thinking Gentleman apart from any self development site I know of. This is a community that aims to share knowledge – both its practical and its conceptual components – and equip men to find their own truths. Not a list of hacks, a collection of personal insights, but a structured dissemination of knowledge that men can over time make their own through their own thought and experience.
This is a crucial point because, when all is said and done, The Thinking Gentleman is not about me. Rather, it is about helping you, my readers, to live the life you want to lead – and that means you drawing your own conclusions about life, taking your own action, and learning from your own personal experience. For me, developing that capacity is not only the true essence of The Thinking Gentleman, it’s also what life is all about – and, dare I say it, I think Kant might just agree.